Daily Archives: May 30, 2007

The Economist–Marriage in America: The frayed knot

There is a widening gulf between how the best- and least-educated Americans approach marriage and child-rearing. Among the elite (excluding film stars), the nuclear family is holding up quite well. Only 4% of the children of mothers with college degrees are born out of wedlock. And the divorce rate among college-educated women has plummeted. Of those who first tied the knot between 1975 and 1979, 29% were divorced within ten years. Among those who first married between 1990 and 1994, only 16.5% were.

At the bottom of the education scale, the picture is reversed. Among high-school dropouts, the divorce rate rose from 38% for those who first married in 1975-79 to 46% for those who first married in 1990-94. Among those with a high school diploma but no college, it rose from 35% to 38%. And these figures are only part of the story. Many mothers avoid divorce by never marrying in the first place. The out-of-wedlock birth rate among women who drop out of high school is 15%. Among African-Americans, it is a staggering 67%.

Does this matter? Kay Hymowitz of the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think-tank, says it does. In her book “Marriage and Caste in America”, she argues that the “marriage gap” is the chief source of the country’s notorious and widening inequality. Middle-class kids growing up with two biological parents are “socialised for success”. They do better in school, get better jobs and go on to create intact families of their own. Children of single parents or broken families do worse in school, get worse jobs and go on to have children out of wedlock. This makes it more likely that those born near the top or the bottom will stay where they started. America, argues Ms Hymowitz, is turning into “a nation of separate and unequal families”.

A large majority””92%””of children whose families make more than $75,000 a year live with two parents (including step-parents). At the bottom of the income scale””families earning less than $15,000””only 20% of children live with two parents. One might imagine that this gap arises simply because two breadwinners earn more than one. A single mother would have to be unusually talented and diligent to make as much as $75,000 while also raising children on her own. And it is impossible in America for two full-time, year-round workers to earn less than $15,000 between them, unless they are (illegally) paid less than the minimum wage.

But there is more to it than this. Marriage itself is “a wealth-generating institution”, according to Barbara Dafoe Whitehead and David Popenoe, who run the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University. Those who marry “till death do us part” end up, on average, four times richer than those who never marry.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Marriage & Family

Lambeth Conference won't look like past gatherings, design team member predicts

The Lambeth Conference 2008 will be a significantly different gathering from the 1998 and 1988 sessions of the once-a-decade meeting of the bishops of the Anglican Communion, according to a member of the Conference’s design team.

The design for Lambeth 2008 “is not driven by production of reports and enabling resolutions building out of the reports, and that’s a significant departure from previous designs,” the Rev. Dr. Ian T. Douglas, a member of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council and of its delegation to the Anglican Consultative Council, told the Episcopal News Service. “The focus here is on transformation, the building of communion and the engagement with each other, the goal of which is to equip the bishops to be more effective and faithful servants to the ‘Missio Dei’ [God’s mission].”

The 2008 Conference has been in the news this week since the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, announced May 22 that a small number of bishops have not been invited to attend.

New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson and Martyn Minns — the latter chosen by the Anglican Church of Nigeria to be the “missionary bishop” for its Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) — were among the bishops whom Williams did not invite. Only serving diocesan bishops, suffragans and assistants, as opposed to retired bishops, were invited.

Douglas was first named to the Conference’s eight-person design group when the intention was to have both the Lambeth Conference and an “Anglican Gathering” at the same time in South Africa. Budget issues forced the postponement of the gathering and movement of the Lambeth Conference back to England, Douglas told the Executive Council in November 2006.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Lambeth 2008

Connecticut Parish opts for 'traditional beliefs'

Trinity Episcopal Church has declared itself a member of the Anglican Church of Nigeria.
The Rev. Donald Helmandollar, Trinity’s rector, confirmed Tuesday that as of Sunday the parish had joined the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a self-described mission of the Nigerian church, serving Episcopalians who hold traditional beliefs. It is based in Fairfax, Va.
The action means the parish is no longer a member of the Episcopal Church U.S.A. but is still Anglican, Helmandollar said.
“We have remained with the Anglican Communion. … The Episcopal Church has demonstrated, continues to demonstrate, that they are walking apart from the communion,” he said.
Helmandollar said the congregation voted to make the move because its members see the Episcopal Church abandoning “the orthodox tenets” of Christian belief.
The 2003 approval of Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, who is gay, has forced the issue for Trinity’s members and other conservatives, he said.
Helmandollar said he sent a letter Tuesday to Bishop Andrew D. Smith, head of the Diocese of Connecticut, informing him of the move. Smith said he had not yet received it and did not want to comment until he had.
The way Helmandollar sees it, Trinity, founded in 1752, is not leaving the Episcopal Church as much as the church has left its scriptural foundations.
“Most of the rest of the Anglican Communion of 77 million folks … the vast majority are staying the course” on sexuality and other beliefs, he said. “They’re not changing.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, CANA, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut, TEC Departing Parishes

Under Fire from Church-State Groups, Air Force Retreats from Evangelical Festival

The Air Force denied it was a sponsor of a Memorial Day weekend festival at Stone Mountain, Ga., honoring the military and featuring introduction of a new paperback Bible designed for military personnel published by the Southern Baptist Convention.

Holman Bible Outreach International, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources, announced plans to give away 3,000 copies of its new Holman CSB Military Bible, “designed to meet the specific needs of military personnel and was created a format that is easy to carry,” at the May 26-28 event honoring active duty and veteran U.S. troops and their families.

Featured speakers at the three-day event, expected to draw 100,000 people, included former SBC President Bobby Welch, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and author of You, The Warrior Leader.

LifeWay said it was sponsoring the event with the United States Air Force, Task Force Patriot USA, General Motors and others. The advance press release described the Task Force Patriot Salute to the Troops as “an official U.S. Air Force 60th anniversary event.” At least one military publication, from Robins Air Force Base in Georgia, called it an official Air Force event.

Americans United for Separation on Church and State wrote a letter May 23 saying military involvement in the three-day event violated the Constitution and the military should not endorse or promote a festival arranged by evangelical Christians.

The Air Force responded with a statement saying it was “not a sponsor” of the event and was “not aware until recently of the religious connotations surrounding Task Force Patriot’s participation.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Church-State Issues, Military / Armed Forces, Religion & Culture

Graham's Global Impact Felt at New N.C. Library

Consider it Billy Graham’s last crusade, one that will draw the faithful long after America’s most famous religious figure is gone.

On a wooded site in his hometown–just off Billy Graham Parkway, no less–the Billy Graham Library will be dedicated May 31 at a private ceremony expected to feature former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Former President Jimmy Carter also is likely to attend.

The ex-presidents are likely to be upstaged, though, by the guest of honor. The 88-year-old evangelist is scheduled to come down from his mountain home in Montreat, N.C., for a rare public appearance to address the crowd of 1,500 invited guests and assorted national media.

If his fragile health allows him to make the trip–he can barely hear or walk and his vision is poor–Graham’s message will echo the one his ministry hopes visitors take from the library: The glory should go to God rather than the lanky farm boy who preached the gospel to hundreds of millions of people around the world.

And yet, once visitors get a look at the old photos and crusade footage that fill the 40,000-square-foot library, it might be a tough sermon to sell. Even for Billy Graham.

“He doesn’t want attention to go to him,” said Graham’s younger sister, Jean Ford, of Charlotte. “And yet it just does.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches

Daily Blog Tip: Finding the Hot Discussion Topics

As regular readers will know, we elves like lists and data. On Monday, we posted a “Titusonenine Top Ten” list to help those still trying to learn their way around the new blog have an easy way to find the posts that are generating the most comments. (One wag said since this is “T19” it should be a “top nine list!” We might just do that in the future…!)

So, how did we come up with that list? Is it just elfin magic? Or can regular readers quickly see what threads are being hotly discussed? Read on! With the new advanced search features here, you too can be an elf!

Here is how to search the blog for the posts with the most comments yourself, using the Advanced Search feature.

1. Go into Advanced Search (up at the top right near the search box and calendar)
2. For the broadest search possible, enter “the” as your keyword (you can of course limit to some keyword of your choosing, e.g. Anglican).
3. Choose: Search on Titles, Entries and Comments in the pull down menu to make sure you’ll get all posts
4. Choose: Titusonenine in the blog selection menu
5. Choose: Any Category to search on ALL categories. Or limit to the category / categories of your choice. (Yes you can select MULTIPLE categories)
6. Finally, over on the far right choose: “Sort Results By: MOST COMMENTS

This will give you a list of posts with the most comments EVER (assuming you’ve not limited your search by keyword or category).

You could also limit the date range of your search, example “today and newer” or “this week and newer.” Try it out!

Posted in * Admin, Blog Tips & Features

Joanne Kaufman: Miracles of Resurrection

When, more than half a century ago, the homily went into serious overtime at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in West New York, N.J., young Donald Samick found a welcome distraction in the rich colors streaming from the stained-glass windows. “I remember looking up at the windows and thinking how pretty they were,” said Mr. Samick, 64, now the head of J&R Lamb Studios Inc., the oldest continuously operating ecclesiastical art and stained-glass concern in the U.S.

Lamb, which celebrated its 150th birthday last month, has had commissions from every state in the union. These range from the creation of a double lancet stained-glass window for Manhattan’s Marble Collegiate Church and stained-glass windows for various chapels at Camp Lejeune, the North Carolina Marine Corps base, to the restoration of the Robert E. Lee memorial window in Richmond, Va.’s historic St. Paul’s Episcopal Church — made necessary when a sailor on leave and in his cups heaved a rock through it.

In the work room of the studio, a modest two-story structure on a busy suburban street here, an artisan was assembling a stained-glass window for St. Albans Episcopal Church in New Brunswick, N.J., one of a series of four that will replace large sheets of colored glass. At a neighboring work table, an employee examined a window with missing pieces — a memorial tribute to one Helen C. Dickinson Gesner — that had been brought in for evaluation from Christ Church in Ridgewood, N.J.

There’s a 60/40 split between commissions for new windows and restoration projects. While much of the work is ecclesiastical in nature, Lamb does a few domestic jobs — diamond shaped leaded glass, say, for the occasional architect building a Tudor home. A current project is the restoration of a skylight for a house in nearby Hoboken. Whatever the scope and nature of the work, it’s done exclusively by hand with soldering irons and glass cutters, pattern shears and lead knives.

Read it all.

Posted in * General Interest

David Stokes: Of church geniuses and apostles

The American pulpit in most main-line denominations has thus become a platform in large part for personal insight, social criticism or therapeutic technique. The Bible is often referred to, but I know few preachers who would focus on this same text in any rigorous fashion for 10 consecutive minutes. A movie review, that morning’s headline, the winsome personal anecdote ”” these have become the primary homiletics teasers by which preachers seek entrée into the hearts of their flock.

The results of this development? Consider those denominations (especially those rooted in the New England Puritan tradition) for which the sermon has been Sunday’s center of gravity. They have bidden farewell to the world of the Bible, so they cannot but demand of their preachers a weekly genius nigh unto divine.

Likewise, lacking any authoritative “narrative world,” these denominations’ preachers find themselves thrown back on their own creativity (or genius) Sunday after Sunday ”” there being no message to which he or she has to be accountable. To climb up into a pulpit week after week has become much like the tight-rope artist who must amaze a demanding audience with ever more daring routines.

I understand why preachers are increasingly tempted to use another’s words ”” especially given the Internet. Yes, they should tell us when their words are not their own, and, yes, it’s disappointing when they don’t. But their dilemma is as understandable as it is onerous. They must comfort the sick and dying, chair countless committees, raise money without talking about money, affirm the middle-class while trying to be prophets ”” and then stand up every Sunday and try to be creative and inspiring. If we’re going to ask all this of our preachers and be outraged when they “fail” us, let’s at least give them a safety net of compassion.

I would caution those congregations that go seeking a new pastor to grace their pulpits with weekly rhetorical acts of daring-do: Genius has always been rare at the best of times, and perhaps more so nowadays when our words are “processed” and ideas go naked, bereft of a story.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture

Christian Minorities in the Islamic Middle East : Rosie Malek-Yonan on the Assyrians

Stephen Crittenden: The plight of Christian minorities in the Islamic Middle East is one of the 20th century tragedies to which we pay least attention.

From the Copts in Egypt, to the Maronites, the Melkites in Lebanon, Orthodox and Chaldeans, the Christian population of the Middle East is a fraction of what it was, and more vulnerable than ever. Nowhere is the situation worse at the moment than in Iraq. And few groups are more vulnerable than the ancient Assyrian Christian community. In fact, this week the Italian journalist Sandro Magister, has warned of the end of Christianity in Iraq.

In early May in a heavily Christian suburb of Baghdad, a Sunni extremist group began broadcasting a fatwah over the loudspeakers of the neighbourhood mosque: the Assyrian Christian community had to convert to Islam or leave, or die. Their Muslim neighbours were to seize their property. The men were told they had to pay the gizya – the protection money Jews and Christians traditionally had to pay to their Muslim overlords – and families were told they could only stay if they married one of their daughters to a Muslim.

More than 300 Assyrian families have fled, mostly to the north into the Kurdish region of Iraq where they are not welcome either They are sleeping in cemeteries, they have no food, more than 30 of their churches have been bombed, their children are being kidnapped and murdered.

Rosie Malek-Yonan is an Assyrian-American. She is a successful film and television actor who has appeared in many popular shows including Dynasty, Seinfeld, E.R. and Chicago Hope. Her novel, The Crimson Field, is a fictionalised account of the little-known Assyrian genocide that took place at the hands of the Ottoman Turks during World War One at the same time that the better-known Armenian genocide was taking place. She recently directed a documentary film on the same subject. And last year she was invited to give testimony before the US Congress about the plight of Assyrian Christians in Iraq. Rosie Malek-Yonan spoke to me from her home in California.

Rosie Malek-Yonan: The Assyrian people are the indigenous people actually of Mesopotamia, before it even was Iraq. All of that area was Mesopotamia and is the original homeland of the Assyrians. They date back to over 6,000 years and were always concentrated in that region.

Stephen Crittenden: And Christianity was accepted by Assyrians, well virtually in apostolic times, right at the very, very beginning?

Rosie Malek-Yonan: Right. Assyrians were actually the first nation to accept Christianity as an entire nation, not just individuals, but the entire nation, and we built the first church of the east.

Read it all

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religious Freedom / Persecution

John Allen: The Pope’s Language Lesson

Benedict, a quintessential realist, will probably be among the few who understand right away that his ruling is not terribly earth-shattering. Sources close to the pope I have spoken to say his modest ambition is that over time, the old Mass will exert a “gravitational pull” on the new one, drawing it toward greater sobriety and reverence.

Perhaps ”” although it’s equally possible that traditionally minded Catholics will now have a broader “opt out” clause, making them less likely to pester priests and bishops about what they see as the defects of the new Mass.

In any event, the real impact of Benedict’s ruling is likely to be measured in small changes over a long arc of time, not in upheavals or revolutions. That reality, however, will do little to lower the rhetorical volume. If only we could convince the activists to slug it out in Latin, leaving the rest of us blissfully oblivious, then we might have something.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Church of Uganda will uphold Road to Lambeth Statement

(Church of Uganda)

In response to the recent announcement that the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Rowan Williams, has sent out invitations to the 2008 Lambeth Conference of Bishops, the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi, made this statement:

On 9th December 2006, the House of Bishops of the Church of Uganda, meeting in Mbale, resolved unanimously to support the CAPA Road to Lambeth statement, which, among other things, states, “We will definitely not attend any Lambeth Conference to which the violators of the Lambeth Resolution are also invited as participants or observers.”

We note that all the American Bishops who consented to, participated in, and have continued to support the consecration as bishop of a man living in a homosexual relationship have been invited to the Lambeth Conference. These are Bishops who have violated the Lambeth Resolution 1.10, which rejects “homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture” and “cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions.”

Accordingly, the House of Bishops of the Church of Uganda stands by its resolve to uphold the Road to Lambeth.

The Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Primates, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Global South Churches & Primates, Lambeth 2008

Daily Blog Tip: How to Avoid Unwanted E-mail From Comment Threads Here

I thought it would be helpful to begin a series of posts highlighting tips about and features of the new blog.

Here’s the answer to a question we have seen several times in the comments: How can I permanently turn off the “Notify me of follow-up comments?” feature? I keep forgetting and now my inbox is full!

We replied to one commenter in some detail here:

Library Jim. Go into Your Account, and the e-mail settings button
There you will see an option
Enable email notifications by default when you post messages

UNCHECK IT. Once you uncheck it, the “notify me of follow-up comments box” will be automatically unselected.

Also, If you have various threads for which you mistakenly had the “notify me of follow-up comments” box checked and for which you want to UNSUBSCRIBE from future comments, you can go into subscription manager, also in your account control panel:

There you can unsubscribe from any comment threads you are subscribed to.

Rather than just tell you how to turn off this feature, however, let me also urge folks to read Greg G’s comment in the same thread, where he explains more about the e-mail settings for the blog and why some folks may want to keep the “notify me of follow up comments” option checked. Most important is his exhortation:

I strongly recommend everyone spend a few minutes poking around in their control panel. You can do a lot to customize the way you experience the site.

Note, what Greg refers to as the “control panel” is accessed with the “Your Account” link, which you can see once you have logged in. You must be a member and logged in to see it. The “Your Account” link is up at the top of the sidebar, above the search box and calendar.

That’s it for today’s lesson. Feel free to let us know what tips and lessons would be helpful. You’ll be able to find all these “Tips” posts by searching on “Blog Tip” or the Admin Category. –elfgirl

Posted in * Admin, Blog Tips & Features

The Three Harmon Children at Abigail's recent Graduation

Posted in * By Kendall

CANA Welcomes New Congregations

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, CANA, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut, TEC Conflicts: Florida, TEC Conflicts: Virginia, TEC Departing Parishes

Another Great Song

It is one of his best.

Posted in * General Interest

All hell breaks out as pagans given go-ahead for university gathering in Scotland

SOME would call it the Devil’s work. Two ancient religions have locked horns in a bizarre “freedom of speech” row that is echoing around the corridors of one of Scotland’s oldest academic institutions.

The University of Edinburgh has granted permission to the Pagan Society to hold its annual conference – involving talks on witchcraft, pagan weddings and tribal dancing – on campus next month. Druids, heathens, shamans and witches are expected to attend what is a major event in the pagan calendar.

But the move has enraged the Christian Union, which accuses the university of double standards after banning one of its events on the “dangers” of homosexuality.

Matthew Tindale, an Edinburgh-based Christian Union staff worker, claimed some faiths and beliefs appeared to be more equal than others on campus.

“This seems to be a clear case of discrimination,” he said. “It’s okay for other religions, such as the pagans, to have their say at the university, but there appears to be a reluctance to allow Christians to do the same. All we are asking for is the tolerance that is afforded to other faiths and organisations.”

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Other Faiths, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Wicca / paganism

Anglican Church shaken by gay debate

For traditionalists, the real problem is how these liberals see the Bible: man-made, sometimes helpful. But to traditionalists the Bible is divinely inspired; it is God communicating with humanity. To them the homosexuality debate, though important, is just a symptom; the disease is a misunderstanding about the authority of Scripture.

While the traditionalists see it as a matter of truth and fidelity, for liberals it is a matter of justice and human rights. God loves all alike, they say, and quote Paul’s letter to Galatians that for Christians “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”.

Each side would rather go its own way than compromise and keep the Anglican Church together. The topic goes to the core of how churches relate to the wider culture in which they live. The sexuality debate pits the African Anglicans, now the biggest group in the church, against the Americans, who are the richest.

American culture is deeply concerned with individual rights, which shape how even churches deal with moral questions. African culture is more communitarian, shaped by tribal structures, and more authoritarian.

After the Americans appointed a gay man, Gene Robinson, bishop of New Hampshire in 2004 many African churches broke off relations.

That really made it a political problem for church leaders, such as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams: how could they keep the church together?

As with any global political dispute, it’s a mixture of principle, posturing and pragmatic politics on all sides, of complex motivations, divided loyalties and shifting agendas.

For example, the Africans who led the opposition to the American liberals have been influenced not only by theological conviction but by cultural misunderstandings and colonial resentment. It’s rather a thrill to tell the Americans where to get off.

So there have been international meetings and committees, and the US church has agreed to partly withdraw. Dr Williams has probably bought enough time to stop the church self-destructing before the 10-yearly meeting of the world’s bishops in London next year, which will reassess the situation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture